The Burrell Collection in Glasgow will reopen in March 2022 following an ambitious building upgrade and redisplay, the charity Glasgow Life has confirmed.
As Kier Construction Scotland finishes work on the refurbishment of the A-listed building, based on designs from architects John McAslan + Partners, installation of the works of art has now begun.
Nearly half of the funding for the £68.25 million project was committed by Glasgow City Council with significant contributions from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Scottish Government, the UK Government, and from many generous trusts and private donors.
As the world recovers from Covid-19, The Burrell is a reminder of culture’s contribution to the vibrancy and international appeal of Glasgow.
The first opening of The Burrell in 1983 was one of the first demonstrations of Glasgow’s commitment to cultural-led regeneration. By harnessing the power of its incredible cultural draw, Glasgow has positioned itself as one of the world’s great cultural and creative cities, making it a must-visit destination.
Councillor David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life, and depute leader of Glasgow City Council, said: ‘It’s wonderful to see that the installation of Sir William’s precious, beautiful and intriguing Collection has begun, now the delicate refurbishment of its home is almost at an end.
‘This major refurbishment and redisplay will celebrate Sir William’s outstanding gift to the city and ensures it is at the heart of Glasgow’s cultural identity for the future, and having much more of The Collection on display and accessible will be one of its immediate successes.
‘Sir William’s incredible legacy will help Glasgow and Scotland’s recovery from Covid-19, bringing increased pride and confidence, which has a tangible effect on our wellbeing. As we move out of a pandemic that is vital.’
Chief executive of Glasgow Life, Dr Bridget McConnell, CBE, said: ‘March 2022 will mark a historic milestone in Glasgow’s story, as the completely refurbished Burrell Collection reopens to the world.
‘Very soon, thanks to all the project’s funders, these wonderful works of art, which Sir William Burrell gave to the people of Glasgow, will be enjoyed in a modern, green museum, fit for purpose and for the future.
‘Our vision for The Burrell Collection demonstrates the city’s ambition for it to become more widely appreciated and well known around the world and for Glasgow to retain its place as a global cultural leader.’
Works to the building began in 2018 with repairs to the roof and the installation of modern glazing making the building more air-tight, reducing its overall energy consumption. A combined heating and power supply has also been installed, contributing to the building’s BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating.
A new entrance will bring visitors straight into the heart of the building and a newly created central stairway will encourage people to explore all three floors of the reimagined Burrell Collection for the first time. The outdoor green space has been also been enhanced, creating new links between the museum and its stunning setting in Pollok Country Park.
On reopening, the museum’s gallery space will have increased by 35%, allowing important and unique objects from the Collection, which have not been seen for decades, or have never been on permanent display, to go on show. New displays will give visitors a better understanding of the artworks, the people who made them and some of the people who have owned them.
Since The Burrell Collection closed to the public in October 2016, a comprehensive consulation programme has engaged with more than 15,000 local people, giving ideas, insights and opinions which have shaped every aspect of the redesign of the building, access to it and the development of the new displays, galleries and spaces within and around the museum.
Sir William Burrell devoted more than 75 years of his life to amassing one of the world’s greatest, single personal collections, renowned for its quality of Chinese art, exquisite stained glass, intricate tapestries and breadth of fine art.
The gift of The Collection to the city was described at the time as: ‘One of the greatest gifts ever made to any city in the world.’ (Sir Hector Hetherington, Principal of Glasgow University).
Highlights include Chinese pottery and porcelain produced over a 5,000-year period, making it one of the most significant collections of Chinese Art in Europe; paintings by renowned French artists including Manet, Cézanne and Degas; Medieval treasures including stained glass, arms and armour and over 200 tapestries and carpets, which are among the finest in the world.
The Collection is also home to the Wagner Garden carpet which is one of the three earliest surviving Persian garden carpets in the world, and has rarely been on public display since The Burrell Collection opened, but the refurbishment and redisplay means it will be on permanent display accompanied by new and innovative methods of interpretation.
Sir Angus Grossart, chair of Burrell Renaissance, said: ‘The Burrell Collection has a reputation as being one of the finest in the world. The wonderful new displays have enhanced and informed what visitors will see. They will find great cultural diversity, much beauty and wonder and the great achievement of one enquiring and questioning mind, that of Sir William Burrell.’